30 thoughts compiled over 30 years

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- The random thoughts of an aging enlisted guy:

1.  Less than 1% of the current US population serves in the military. Fewer and fewer of our politicians have military service in their resume. As a result, most Americans have no idea what we do for a living.
2.  Why can't we just go back to saying "gym," "troops" and "chow hall?"
3.  Every base has at least one 2nd lieutenant that everyone sees around, but no one is quite sure of his or her function or position. I often wonder if they are actually getting paid...
4.  There is never a good time to deploy.
5.  Having a fundraiser that involves wearing civilian clothes instead of a uniform - no matter how worthy the cause - is a huge foul. Wearing the uniform is an honor, not a burden.
6.  Never try to convince someone to stay in the Air Force based on the amount of money they will make or the benefits they will receive. Money and benefits are good to have, but they should not be the driving force behind military service.
7.  In my "perfect" Air Force, everyone would start out as an E-1. We would then separate the officer and enlisted career paths at the two year point. We could all use that E-1 or E-2 perspective.
8.  Quality Air Force, Total Quality Management (TQM), AFSO-21, Lean, and Six Sigma are all concepts that focus on management. While these programs are certainly worthy of consideration (especially in times of limited resources), the Air Force succeeds because of leadership, not management.
9.  Every DUI suspect since the beginning of time has "only had a couple."
10.  For the Air Force, the front line warriors of the "Cold War" were the pilots. The front line warriors of today's Expeditionary Air Force include pilots, TACPs, combat controllers, defenders, EOD, SAR, vehicle operators, contractors, civil engineers, Intel, communicators, medics, and journalists - just to name a few. We are, indeed, "all in."
11.  Cold Weather Gear Observations
a. The big green parka with the fake fur hood needs to go. I'm sure someone in Admiral Byrd's South Pole Expedition (circa 1928) wore the same parka.
b. The most effective cold weather boot I've ever worn was the Mukluk, with Sorel liners (this was at Eielson). Where have they all gone? They were even sage green in color, so they would have been a perfect match for the ABU. Go figure.
12.  We spend too much time and too many resources on inspections. There should be some way to rate a unit on its mission capabilities by observing real world operations.
13.  In a deployed environment, forget segregating the showers according to male and female. There are two kinds of people in the world: Those that like to talk in the morning, and those that don't. The two should not be mixed. Ever.
14.  There is no possible way to get comfortable in a C-130 troop seat.
15.  Today we tend to call everything a deployment. In the old days, if you got regular days off and could relax after work with a beer, it was called "TDY."
16.  No matter how physically demanding your Air Force job may be - you should always look sharp at the beginning of the duty day.
17.  We should never be too busy to reflect on the service and sacrifice of those that came before us. Likewise, we should never be too busy to take care of those that will continue to serve after we're gone.
18.  There is never a bad time of the day (or night) to notify someone that they've been promoted.
19.  And, if the Air Force in its wisdom, added a supplement to AFI 36-2903 that said "no one shall dress like a turnip while deployed" - you can be sure the very next day at least one pilot would show up dressed as - you guessed it - a turnip.
20.  Our country's true unsung hero is the military spouse.
21.  AMMO troops are professional, energetic, selfless, courageous, fit, and even relatively intelligent. Despite all that, they really do worry me...
22.  There are many career fields that work 24/7, 365 days a year. Weekends, Holidays, Family Days and Down Days do not apply to them. When you have the opportunity, thank them for their service.
23.  There is nothing more corrosive to good order and discipline than unsubstantiated information (rumors).
24.  Somewhere along the way we lost our ability to hire the right civilian for the right position, and to do it in a timely manner. I see this as one of the major challenges the Air Force faces today.
25.  The Generation Y philosophy of "everyone is a winner and everyone gets a trophy" has spilled over to the military. The Air Force gives out way too many decorations.
26.  Fitness is a cultural change for the Air Force that requires leadership engagement at every level if we are to be successful. Ultimately, however, fitness is an individual responsibility.
27.  Regarding the Enlisted Performance Report
a. Feedback should be constant. A subordinate should never be surprised by their rating.
b. Stick to your guns on your ratings. You don't need a paperwork trail to mark someone down.
c. The system would work if raters gave honest assessments.
d. No one should ever write their own performance report.
28.  Every personal relationship has professional impact. This does not mean we shouldn't have personal relationships - but it is something we should be aware of.
29.  If you are comfortable in your current job, it's time to move on.
30.  I will never do anything in my life that will compare to serving in the United States Air Force. Everything from here on out will be enjoyable, and hopefully noteworthy, but anti-climatic.